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This joint initiative between the River Stour Trust and Sudbury Town Council aims to gain Designated Bathing Water status for the River Stour between the Granary Cut in Sudbury and Great Cornard Lock. If this is granted, the Environment Agency will be required to monitor and protect this stretch of river and the local authority will need to display information about pollution levels during the bathing season.
It is not our intention, specifically, to seek an increase in the number of swimmers in the river, but it is our view that all river users will benefit from an improvement in water quality. Once DBA status is awarded the EA will be required to make weekly checks on river quality which will be posted (probably on Friars Meadow) so that everyone can make an informed decision as to whether it is safe to use the river. It also puts pressure on potential polluters to improve their performance.
To proceed with an application, it will be necessary to conduct surveys of river use during the summer, particularly between May and the end of September. Other river users and landowners will need to be consulted and an application must be presented to DEFRA during October.
We shall seek volunteers to help with survey work and it may be helpful to organise a public petition to support the application as well. We shall be working closely with Sudbury Town Council to meet all the requirements of the application.
More information/background about river water quality
The Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust reported to Suffolk County Council in May that every river in the county had fallen below the standards for pollution set by the Government and the Water Framework Directive.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils very recently voted in favour of Green Party proposals to question Anglian Water over sewage discharge and ask the company to provide clear information about how it will manage sewage when it is consulted on major development.
Sewage discharge / overflow data below is drawn from two openly accessible, reliable sources via the web search: Anglian Water (
Sewage discharge / overflow data below is drawn from two openly accessible, reliable sources via the web search: Anglian Water (EDM Storm Overflow Regulatory Annual Return 2021) and The Rivers Trust (Is your river fit to play in?)
Like many other river users, the River Stour Trust has become increasingly concerned about the quality of water in the River Stour. You may have seen the numerous press reports about the pollution arising from a mixture of sewage overflow and agricultural run-off. It is clear from recent reports from Government committees and the media that no-one in Britain can be entirely sure that the water they are playing in is safe. It is apparent that very few rivers in England have a clean bill of health.
The trouble is, we simply do not know the real state of the Stour. Inquiries to the Environment Agency about testing the river revealed that they will only test where a Designated Bathing Area (DBA) exists.
Although anyone or any organisation can apply to DEFRA for a DBA, they are usually made by a local authority. Last year, on behalf of the River Stour Trust, one of our members and volunteers presented the case for making an application for DBA to Sudbury Town Council’s Leisure & Environment Committee. It was unanimously agreed to proceed with such an application covering the length of the river from the Granary Cut to the lock at Great Cornard.
Support is good news, but a lot of work lies ahead! DBA status applies to many beaches and a few lakes but there are only two rivers in England, River Wharfe near Ilkley, West Yorkshire and a stretch of the River Thames at Port Meadow, Oxford.